Valentine's Negative Space Water Marble

Valentine's Negative Space Water Marble

Valentine's Negative Space Water Marble

This manicure was days in the making. It all started one night when I was supposed to be working but instead succumbed to the siren song of the 'create and contain" circles on my relatively new Bliss Kiss Simply Neat Miracle Mat and made some adorable little water marbles. 

Cute!

Cute!

I didn't have time to actually do anything with these, but I did learn that the L'Oreal Chateau Royale Fall 2015 collection water marbles really well. 

Also cute!

Also cute!

So I got this idea to create (and contain) some little water marbles and then cut them into decals to create a Valentine's themed negative space water marble manicure. Like so. 

Yup.

Yup.

I prepped my nails using the Zoya Naked Manicure system to make them look as natural as possible and got to work on my water marbles, which as you can see above came out fine. Manipulating the decals, on the other hand, was a whole other terrible clusterfuck of a story that I was too stressed to take any pictures of. Basically I couldn't get a clean edge using scissors or an exacto knife or acetone and a brush and then I got tired and gave up.

Paint me like your french manicures.

Paint me like your french manicures.

So I decided to try my hand (lol) at a French manicure. I never bothered to buy the Tip Perfector as part of the Naked Manicure system because until about three months ago, I never had nails long enough to gave a significant free edge. For this manicure, I used Loaded Lacquer Coconut for the tips. It's not bad for my first French mani, and freehanded no less. But my layers of polish were too thick so this got all jammed up when I put my socks on. 

Undaunted, I carried on. 

Ehhhhh...

Ehhhhh...

Okay so my next brilliant idea was to use Simply Peel to create the heart shapes from my sketch up there. Rather than go through the Naked Manicure steps again, I used two coats of OPI Bubble Bath over Unt Ready for Takeoff for easy removal when I inevitably fucked this up, which happened more or less immediately. I quickly abandoned the "painting with Simply Peel" idea and decided to try using the Simply Peel to mask off all but a scalloped/heart-shaped edge of my nails. The shape is wonky for sure, but the actual water marble went so smoothly I did my pinky and index finger, too. As you can see, they turned out fabulously. The middle two nails... eh. 

Aftermath

Aftermath

I spent the day with that weird water marble on my hand and then I jumped right back into the pool, this time using stickers to try to achieve a neater version of the same look. This mess is a good representation of all the tools used to create this manicure and so, clockwise from left we have:

  • Polishes: L'Oreal Wine Spritzer, OPI Bubble Bath, Simply Peel (not a polish obviously), Unt Ready for Take Off, KBShimmer Clearly on Top, and L'Oreal Wicked Wine
  • Souvenir beer festival glass for water marbling.
  • Baby medicine syringe from Walgreens for refilling the Simply Peel. If wealth were measured by baby medicine syringes, I would be Bill goddamn Gates.  
  • Beadalon tweezers. These things are cheap and great and I highly recommend them. 
  • Bliss Kiss Simply Pure cuticle oil. I use this every time I finish a manicure for a little cuticle TLC.  
  • Rhinestone wheel from a random Amazon seller. I definitely picked this up without closing the little window and got rhinestone hearts all over the floor. Sigh.
  • Uberchic Beauty Oval Gel Clean Up Brush. This brush is so fantastic. It is the perfect stiffness and it's very thin at the tip. I love it. 
  • Pure Color No. 9 liner brush to touch up the water marble a little and the Pure Color water marble tool to draw the design.
These kind of look like birds.

These kind of look like birds.

I used some tip guides to create what I hoped would be a heart shape at the bottom of my nails, and covered the top of my nail and most of my fingers with Simply Peel. 

I snapped a fast photo of my water marble design before I dipped. 

I snapped a fast photo of my water marble design before I dipped. 

I learned something important on this most recent foray into water marbling: "room temperature" is a subjective concept and if it's in the single digits outside, your room might be too cold for optimum water marbling water. I tried to account for that by using a little bit of the hot water leftover in the tea kettle and filling the rest of the glass with room temperature (aka cold as hell) water. The first time around, when I dipped my pinky and index finger, that worked really well. For this go 'round time, I has having some problems. Still, I was only dipping half of two fingers so I knew I wouldn't need much area and I soldiered on. 

Gross

Gross

This looks like a rejected prop from a Herschel Gordon Lewis movie. 

After peel, before cleanup.

After peel, before cleanup.

Then peel of Simply Peel (like no big deal...) et voila. 

Barrel aged water marble water

Barrel aged water marble water

This is the vessel I use for water marbling because it's a pretty good size and also it amuses me to ruin a souvenir beer festival glass with nail polish and imagine blowhard beer nerd dudes having a hissy about it.

Finished look

Finished look

Then, some cleanup, some topcoat, and some little heart rhinestones to finish the look. My only Valentine's day plans are to go out and get donuts for breakfast (weather permitting) so I didn't feel compelled to create a full manicure or this, or to wear it for longer than a couple of hours, but I'm glad I managed to achieve my goal. Go me. 

Happy Valentine's Day!

The Haul to End All Hauls

Would that it were so. I could probably pay off my student loans a decade sooner. Anyway, here are the polishes I've acquired over the last couple of months, in no particular order.

I'm not a good brick and mortar retail shopper, especially in the winter when I get easily overheated in my giant puffy coat. I generally only go into a retail store with a list and a plan, so places like TJMaxx, with their unpredictable stock and messy piles of merchandise, are usually too stressful for me. But I had some time to kill after the gym one day (my gym is in the same building as TJMaxx), and decided to see what was what in their nail polish bins. Turns out there is some good stuff there! The Sally Hansen was $.99 and the rest were $2.99. Bargain! From left:

  • Sally Hansen Intimate - This is a white and baby pink matte glitter topper in a clear base with a terrible name.
  • OPI Bright Lights Big Color - Coral-y creme with gold shimmer. I am deep enough into nail polish now that I bought this even though I don't really care for coral because I didn't have anything like it in the stash (because I don't really care for coral).
  • China Glaze  I Love Your Guts - A metallic pink and black glitter texture polish from the 2014 Halloween collection. This is the pink sibling to "But of Corpse."
  • China Glaze Howl You Doin'? - a purple jelly with blue and orange glitter from the 2013 Halloween collection.
  • China Glaze Awaken - This is a blue gray metallic/frost from a spring 2009 Romantique collection. I went searching for swatches of this after I bought it and liked the rest of the collection so much, I bought a bunch more. FORESHADOWING. 

The only reason I stayed up until midnight on New Year's Eve was to buy some of the polishes from KBShimmer's birthstone collection. From left:

  • Peridot, Sapphire, Citron (my birthstone), and Aquamarine - I haven't tried any of these yet for some dumb reason but they are on my short list.
  • Brrr-tiful Dreamer - This is a grayed out purple crelly with red, silver, and blue glitters that I happen to be wearing right now. And I hate to say this, but this is not doing it for me. There's nothing wrong with the polish itself, but as pretty as the color is in the bottle, it is underwhelming on my nails. 
  • A Raisin to Live - I love every glitter jelly polish from KBShimmer so I'm pretty sure I'll love this one.
  • Clearly On Top - My go to topcoat these days.

These are polishes I randomly picked up on my travels. Again from left:

  • Sinful Colors Holiday Rebel - I didn't wear this over Christmas and I doubt I will wear it before next Christmas, but it just feels right to have a red and green glitter topper handy, just in case. 
  • Sinful Colors Star Studded - Man, this is a pretty polish. I stood there in Walgreens swirling the bottle and watching it like a snow globe far longer than was socially acceptable and I'm frankly surprised nobody called the cops. Here it is over Native War Paints Classic Essentials Alison, which is what I wore for Christmas. 

Sinful Colors Flake Out - I think I need to accept the fact that I don't care for big old glitters. They never look as good on my nails as they do in the bottle. Since they don't lie flat, I pick at them obsessively, and that's no good. This is kind of a "This soup is terrible and the portions are too small" complaint, but Flake Out requires extensive fishing to get those big snowflake glitters out, too. You can see that the fill line is down a little, and that's because I dumped out a puddle of this to get the snowflakes out for this mani:

  • Sally Hansen Eyelet - I wanted a white matte glitter topper and was thinking of China Glaze Chillin' with My Snowmies (I'm rolling my eyes at that name, FYI) but there are those big glitters again. I really like Eyelet better - smaller glitters and it applied really nicely. I'm wearing this one here: 
  • Sally Hansen Pixel Perfect - I picked this up at Jewel Osco because I was grocery shopping and thought, "I don't have a black and white glitter topper and I need one of those." Hey, it's more interesting than thinking about the unit price of frozen spinach. 
  • Revlon Transforming Effects in Matte Pearl Glaze and Gold Glaze - Listen capitalism is garbage and convincing people that they should be loyal to brands is one of capitalism's greatest scams but I love Walgreens and I hate CVS but CVS was having a big end of the year beauty stuff clearance sale so I bought these two polishes there on super sale. Take that, capitalism.  

I watched Phoebe Moon's swatch and review of the China Glaze House of Color collection for this spring and was totally smitten with these five polishes. I ordered these five and the next three from Head2Toe Beauty, which is where you should get all of your China Glaze polishes because they are cheap as heck there! From left:

  • Don't Be Shallow - Pretty pretty light blue creme. 
  • Girls Just Wanna Have Sun - I don't really like yellow polishes but I am totally here for this one because I think it's going to be awesome as a base for nail art and for gradients. 
  • Let's Chalk It Out - I've already used this one twice! It's got a really good formula for such a light color. I don't usually care for such delicate pinks (like, you can miss me with the entire OPI Hello Kitty collection) but this one just called to me. 
Let's Chalk It Out is the base color, and I used Don't Be Shallow in the gradient. 

Let's Chalk It Out is the base color, and I used Don't Be Shallow in the gradient. 

There's Let's Chalk It Out again on the pinky and index finger, with Don't Be Shallow making a brief appearance on the lightning bolt. 

There's Let's Chalk It Out again on the pinky and index finger, with Don't Be Shallow making a brief appearance on the lightning bolt. 

  • Come Rain Or Shine - It's 100% Phoebe's fault I bought this one as I was planning to skip it until I saw her video. 
  • Chrome Is Where the Heart Is - Give me all of the frosty brush stroke-y polishes. All of them. 

I said give me all the frosty brush stroke-y polishes and I meant it, dammit. Here are the other three China Glaze polishes I bought from Head2Toe Beauty, all from the same 2009 Romantique collection from which Awaken came. From left they are Admire, Cherish, and Joy. 

It's true that I've talked a little trash about Floss Gloss on here before, so why, you may be wondering, did I purchase five Floss Gloss polishes? Well, let me tell you. I actually purchased six Floss Gloss polishes from a fellow polish enthusiast on Instagram. Alas, because it was like one degree on the day they were delivered, one of the six (a purple that I don't remember the name of) broke. In cleaning up the other wee Floss Gloss bottles, the acetone dissolved some of the gold on the caps. So hence these sorry looking bottles. These colors are also out of my wheelhouse. Still, I jumped on the chance to buy them second hand as an affordable way to add some pastels to my stash. From left, these are Wet, 95% Angel, Baby Baby, Pony, and Wavepool. 

It is possible that these are actually Wavepool, 95% Angel, Baby Baby, Pony, and Wet. I can't really tell those greens apart to be totally honest. 

Last but not least, a new indie for me: Scofflaw Nail Varnish, made right here in good old Chicago. From left we have Diamond Dogs, Fire Imp, and Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her. I saw a swatch of Diamond Dogs on Instagram and I'm not exaggerating when I saw that my mouth dropped open. It's so gorgeous. Here it is on my nails:

And I'll leave you with a song: 

Detox Tea Is Bullshit

Well, let's start off the new year with a bang, shall we?

First, a quick disclaimer: I do not begrudge anyone a fair wage for their labor. To that end, while I don't care for product placement-style advertising, I understand that's the best and easiest way for most nail art Instagrammers to make a buck and I fully support nail artists earning money for their work.  Let me say preemptively that I generally agree that I can unfollow any accounts who post things I don't like, which is exactly what I do when someone posts an add for detox tea. I'm under no delusion that losing one follower out of hundreds of thousands has any impact on any nail artist's decision about what to post on their account, but at least that way I don't have to clutter up my Instagram feed with garbage. So this post is not so much directed to the big accounts, on whose radar I am not even a speck, but rather for those who follow those accounts and who might, after seeing someone whose work they respect posting an enthusiastic endorsement (and do not get me wrong - the nail artists who post about detox tea are explicitly saying that they approve of this product) of a product like detox tea time and time again, decide, "Hey, why not try it?"

I'll tell you why not - because detox tea is a scam. It doesn't "detoxify" anything, it doesn't help you lose weight, and it may be actively harmful to your health.

I'm not overlooking how detox tea is harmful to mental health, in the way endorsing a fad diet product inculcates an unrealistic body image in the young people who follow a particular account, not to mention explicitly encouraging fad diets and calorie restriction in someone who may not even be done growing yet. In the interest of keeping this post manageable, however, I'm limiting it to the three primary ways in which detox tea does not function as claimed. 

The first order of bullshit is that detox tea won't detox anything because there's no such thing as "detoxing," at least not from a tea (or a juice or a supplement or a cleanse for that matter). I'm not a scientist or a physician, so I'm going to let a real doctor do the talking here:

“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances — usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body. Drugs used for real detoxification are not ingredients in a smoothie. What’s being promoted today as “detox” is little different than eons-old religious rituals of cleansing and purification. Framing detoxification in religious terms won’t have the appeal in a world that values science. So use the word “toxin”, not sin, and call the ritual a “detox” – and suddenly you’ve given your treatment a veneer of what sounds scientific. Fake detox is marketed based on three easily-debunked ideas. Once you can spot the flaws, it’s easy to spot the spin and misinformation, and to make smarter, healthier decisions.

The one thing you need to know before you detox, posted by Scott Gavura on Science Based Medicine, 12/31/15

Okay, so did you get that? Someone may actually require medical detox, and a person who does is actively dying from whatever toxic substance has suffused their body. A person whose sole symptom is an insufficiently flat belly is not suffering from an surfeit of "toxins." They are suffering from genetics or gas or a large lunch. "Detoxing" does not exist as a commercially available endeavor because we as humans are not full of toxins that need to be removed (assuming, of course, you are not suffering from an acute case of lead poisoning right now). 

Put another way, you don't need to "detox" because:

Your body is already doing it for you. If we needed additional detoxing, we’d be given information from medical professionals rather than lifestyle gurus.
Healthy liver and kidneys detoxify the blood, removing any impurities and keeping the body clean. If everything is in working order, there should be no need to supplement this with faddy detox products.

5 myths about your New Year 'detox' - debunked by Molly Goodfellow on the Independent, 12/28/15

The premise of detox tea is flawed right out of the gate in that it's promising something it is impossible to deliver. Selling detox tea is like selling flying tea. People can fly given the right equipment, but a cup of tea a day for fourteen days isn't going to get you off the ground. 

Let's say you aren't interested in "detoxing" but just want to lose weight. Detox tea works for that, right? Well, no. Like most weight loss supplements, Fit Tea (the brand of detox tea often promoted by nail artists on Instagram) recommends that you "[s]tay hydrated with plenty of water," "[e]xerise regularly 3-5 times per week," and "[e]at healthy, balanced meals" for best results. Fit Tea also offers a PDF of 100 Weight Loss Tips to employ in addition to drinking their tea. 100! One hundred things in addition to drinking this tea that you must do for "best results." This includes such gems as "Go easy on the tea and coffee" (but... Fit Tea is... tea?) and, interestingly given that one of the advertising claims of Fit Tea is a flat stomach, the following pearl of wisdom:

Most people would like to target their stomachs and get rid of that area all together. Unfortunately, we can't spot reduce. But, one thing you can do is a breathing exercise to help tighten those stomach muscles.

100 Weight Loss Tips, Fit Tea

WEIRD. It's almost as if Fit Tea knows its claims are bullshit. 

Don't take my word for it though. Again, smarter people than I have tackled this very issue.

One detox tea brand, recently Instagrammed by Amber Rose, advises per their website that for “best results,” the tea should be consumed along with plenty of water, healthy, balanced meals, and three to five workouts a week. Another, which has been Instagrammed by several celebs, including Kourtney KardashianChristina Milian, and Hilary Duffstates online that the tea “…is recommended to be taken in conjunction with a healthy energy-controlled diet and regular exercise” and the website offers an accompanying meal plan for sale. Personally, I’d love to see a study comparing outcomes generated by a detox tea compared to a placebo, with both groups following the exact same eating plan, but I haven’t found any. That makes it difficult to know whether the weight-loss results people are getting from these teas are actually due to drinking them, or simply the result of a cleaned-up diet and consistent workout routine, which we already know can lead to weight loss. In any case, simply sipping detox tea while continuing to skip the gym and order takeout is unlikely to help you shrink your shape.

5 Things You Should Know About Detox Teas, posted by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD on Health, 6/15/15

Not only are the claims specious, but if you do see a lower number on the scale, it's not likely to be for the reasons you hope. 

Detox teas that combine caffeine with diuretics can trigger the loss of water weight. Just two cups of water weighs one pound on a scale, so shedding fluid can make you look and feel lighter—even if you haven’t lost an ounce of body fat. Detox teas can also trigger a laxative effect, which causes your body to eliminate waste from your GI tract, another result that can make your stomach flatter, and allow you to feel lighter, even if your lean-to-fat ratio remains exactly the same. If this quick-fix effect gives you the confidence boost and motivation you need to start eating healthier and working out—the real keys to getting healthy and lean—terrific (assuming the teas are even safe to drink—see below). Just remember: If you go back to your former less-than-stellar eating or exercise habits, or stop drinking the tea, you can gain the weight right back just as quick as you dropped it.

Id.

So in other words, at best, detox tea will make you lighter because you'll have less water and less, well, poop in your body, not because your fat cells have shrunk. As soon as you replace the lost fluid or fecal matter by drinking more water or eating anything, whatever weight you've lost comes back, too. And that's at best. If your particular detox tea doesn't have diuretic or laxative ingredients it's not going to do any more than a much cheaper cup of black or green tea would. And not for nothing, but unnecessary use of laxatives is a common tactic for people with eating disorders and can cause serious health issues. Endorsing a laxative product as a weight loss aid could have direct harmful consequences for someone scrolling through an Instagram feed. 

(You may be thinking that not everybody has an eating disorder, and you can't make everything safe for everybody. I would argue that as non-sociopaths, we do have a duty not to knowingly engage in behavior that causes harm to other people (especially for our own pecuniary gain), but this post is about facts, not about my bleeding heart view of humanity, so I'll leave it at that.)

Even if detox tea doesn't detox anything, or help anybody lose weight, it's still just herbal tea, right? So what's the harm, really? Aside from the harm to the overlapping Venn diagram of a particular nail artist's Instagram followers and people with eating disorders, detox tea has the potential to be harmful to anyone who drinks it. 

The herbal supplement field is an unregulated Wild West in the US thanks to the direct lobbying efforts of the vitamin and supplement industry to remove vitamins and supplements from the purview of the Food and Drug Administration, the government agency charged with regulating food, drugs, and medical devices. The result?

This lack of safeguards creates a situation in which unwitting consumers are exposed to herbal products that in most cases have no proven effectiveness but often have serious toxicities. Though we tend to equate natural with healthy, plants have developed toxins to protect themselves against predators. The perception that herbal supplements and botanicals are inherently safe is belied by extensive evidence of the danger posed by such products, including kava, ephedra, comfrey, and aristolochic acid. However, intensive advertising by the dietary supplements industry exploits and reinforces the illusion that plant products are inherently beneficial and harmless.

Natural Does Not Mean Safe: Herbal supplements are unregulated, overhyped, and potentially deadly by Geoffrey Kabat on Slate, 11/26/12

While the majority of Fit Tea's ingredients appear benign, garcinia cambogia extract has not only been shown to cause testicular atrophy and toxicity in mice, but it is also possibly ineffective for weight loss, the putative purpose of the ingredient's inclusion in the tea. One laboratory study isn't enough to damn a particular ingredient, but due to a lack of regulation and oversight, there are no other studies on the safety of this ingredient out there to counter the atrophied mouse testicles study. So buyer (and their testicles) beware. 

Evaluating the ingredients listed on its website gives Fit Tea an unearned benefit of the doubt that what it lists as ingredients is what is actually contained therein. Thanks again to a lack of regulation and oversight, what actually goes into a supplement or herbal tea and what is listed on the ingredients list often vary wildly. A test conducted by the New York State attorney general's office early in 2015 revealed that supplements often don't contain any of the ingredients they claim to contain and sometimes contain totally random ingredients, like dried houseplants. Yes. I said houseplants. You have no reason to take any detox tea seller at its word, and every reason to distrust them. The entire premise of their product is a scam so why would they be honest about what ingredients you're drinking when they could stuff their tea with something cheaper? 

The holidays are over and maybe you're still feeling a little hungover. Maybe you feel bloated or ill-nourished from holiday eating or you have the post-holiday letdown blues. When you're scrolling through your Instagram feed, cheering yourself up with all the pretty nails you may get seduced by the photos of cut abs and accompanying enthusiastic endorsement for detox tea, but remember the bottom line: it doesn't work. Besides, you and your stomach are just fine the way you are. And you can always check out that PDF of 100 weight loss tips for free, which standing alone is equally as likely to lead to weight loss as that PDF and 14 days worth of Fit Tea (and much less likely to require you to drink tea made from dried houseplants). 

Oh hey!

Yikes! It's been a month since I posted last! That unintentional hiatus is due to a number of things, mostly being super busy at work, having a toddler (seriously, how do they have so much energy all the time!?), and well, mostly just those two things. The annoying thing is that I've got posts queued up and ready to publish; they only need to be proofed. I just haven't had a chance to get to them. Or, more accurately, when I've had the chance I weighed my choices of updating my blog against doing other things, like painting my nails or folding laundry or eating something, and the blog went by the wayside.

I've always said that this blog, this hobby even, is only sustainable as long as it doesn't feel like work, so while I'd love to focus on building a readership and developing my brand and all that good stuff we tend to expect from bloggers these days, for the time being, this is going to be a site that ebbs and flows along with my workflow and general energy levels.

That said, I'm still fairly active on Instagram so be sure to follow me there for more frequent updates. And I have no plans to stop updating this site! In fact, the early part of the year is usually slower at work so for awhile at least things should be more active around here. I've got those old posts queued up, plus a holiday manicure roundup, and I'm even mentally storyboarding a collection/workspace video.

In the meantime, Happy Solstice/Merry Christmas as applicable, and Happy New Year! I'll see you again in 2016. 



clairestelle8: Purple Gradient

Holo to the rescue... again.

Holo to the rescue... again.

The first time I laid eyes on the Loreal Chateau Royale collection I thought, "I'm finna use those in a gradient." And so when the @clairestelle8 November challenge prompt "purple" came around, I saw a perfect opportunity to practice my gradients (which has not been my strongest technique) and use these lovely, dusky purple polishes.

With Yogurt Filter

With Yogurt Filter

Without

Without

Oh, before I start, remember how I mentioned that I was having some issues with photos coming out fuzzy in a very "Captain Kirk's falling in love with a beautiful alien woman again" kind of way? And then I cleaned off the lens on my iPhone camera and was like "I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW THE YOGURT'S GONE" (it may not have been yogurt but that is a likely candidate given how much of the stuff my kid eats)? Well above are two unretouched, unfiltered, unmanipulated photos taken in my bathroom. The left one is before I cleaned the lens and the right one is after. Yeah. Lesson learned - clean your shit. 

So some of the pictures below are BC (before cleaning) and have that fuzzy look and for that I apologize. 

Let's take a look at the gear for this simple mani:

  • Bliss Kiss Simply Peel
  • Nine Zero Lacquer "Super Smooth" base coat
  • Loreal "High Spirits" and "Pinot Purple"
  • Nine Zero Lacquer "No Time to Waste" topcoat and, not pictured, OTD and KBShimmer "Clearly on Top" top coat as well
  • F.U.N. Lacquer "Diamond" holo topcoat, because I'd planned to holo all these things even before I discovered what garbage the Loreal polishes were (FORESHADOWING).
  • Sponges and tweezers
Testing top coats

Testing top coats

I swatched a few different topcoats on my Uber Chic Uber Mat. From left that's Starrily "The Unicorns Are Coming," Chine Glaze "Fairy Dust," and F.U.N. Lacquer "Diamond." I intended to use "Diamond" all along. The other swatches were the nail art equivalent of interviewing external candidates for a job even when you fully intend to promote from within. 

Whoa

Whoa

Oh and did you know? The easiest way to clean off a silicone mat is with a lint roller. Awesome. 

What manner of bullshit is this?

What manner of bullshit is this?

People gush about brushes, and I have my preferences, but you really don't know how important the bush to your polish is until you get one that completely sucks. Somebody at Loreal was snoozing on the quality control line, because the brush in "High Spirits" was complete and utter garbage. I mean, look at that. I'm surprised I didn't end up painting the insides of my ears by accident. 

And more manners of bullshit. 

And more manners of bullshit. 

Cruddy brush or no cruddy brush, I had a vision and I pressed onward, painting one thick-ish coat of "High Spirits." Then, I topcoated it with "No Time to Waste" and the Loreal polish absolutely dissolved under the topcoat. What the fuck? 

And yet more. 

And yet more. 

I tried ONM "Out the Door" topcoat and KBShimmer "Clearly on Top," and had the same problems.

Eh.

Eh.

Embodying the indomitability of the human spirit as I do, I continued with my gradient, hoping that "Pinot Purple," which performed fine during my splatter mani, would not react the same way to topcoat. And it didn't, as long as I laid the polish on extra thick at the tips, which, prior to holo-ing, looked pretty terrible as you can see. 

I haven't found much in the way of swatches or reviews of this collection. Actually, aside from a few "Spotted at Rite Aid!" type posts, Cool Polish is the only blog to swatch them.  So, I have no idea if my issues are due to a bad batch (which, again with the quality control problems... Get your shit together, Loreal) or if Loreal polish is just terrible in general. If you have any experience with Loreal polishes or this collection, I'd love to hear about it!

Music Monday: Missy! Motherfucking! Elliot!

Missy Elliott's new single "WTF (Where They From)" ft. Pharrell Williams available now! Download: http://smarturl.it/WTFdownload Stream: http://smarturl.it/WTF_spotify Directed by: Dave Meyers & Missy Elliott Missy Elliott - "WTF (Where They From)" ft.

Missy Elliot is my hero and a god damn national treasure and this song is fucking amazing and the video is weird as fuck and I fucking LOVE IT and I LOVE MISSY ELLIOT and I LOVE THIS SONG. 

NOTD: Magnum PI Nails

Oh Thomas, you card.

Oh Thomas, you card.

At the beginning of the month, I had it in my head that I would hit as many nail challenges as possible in November. I even made a public calendar to keep track of them all. But you know, life happens. Day jobs try to kill you with stress and workload. Family members have accidents (everything is fine!). I get sick (also fine!). Grandparents come to visit. And sometimes, as fun as nail challenges are and as relaxing as painting my nails is, it has to take a back seat to everything else going on. Which I kind of hate. But whatever. 

ANYWAY

Back when I was trying to hit all the nail challenges, I decided to combine Themed Thursday's "leaves" prompt and the Weekly Nail Art Challenge's "Movember" prompt with an homage to one of my early childhood crushes, Thomas Magnum, PI. Then I realized that Themed Thursday's monthly theme was "autumn" and WNAC's monthly theme was "elegant" but I did a little reconning and concluded that palm fronds are plenty autumnal in Hawaii and you can't get much more elegant than Magnum, PI.

I mean, look at these elegant motherfuckers:

Eleganza!

Eleganza!

All the topcoats.

All the topcoats.

For this mani I used:

  • Essie "Fill the Gap." My base color is shimmery so I wanted a smooth as possible nail surface to start with.
  • China Glaze "Bend Over Backwards"
  • Nine Zero Lacquer "No Time to Waste." This is thinner than Seche Vite and I've grown to like it as an interstitial topcoat for multi-layerd manicures.
  • Not pictured: white acrylic paint, black acrylic paint
  • Nine Zero Lacquer/Native War Paints "Little Cricket Foo Foo" and "Squeaky McSquawks"; Love, Angeline "Ruffles, Lace, and High Heels" for color on the palm fronds
  • Seche Vite to protect the design and matte topcoat to try and tone down the Christmas-ness.
  • My beloved #2 clean up brush from Twinkled T
  • My new 9 Pure Color nail art brush from What's Up Nails
A fine, fine man

A fine, fine man

Here's a shot of the Hawaiian shirt (and the handsome man within) that served as the inspiration for my nails. The shirt features green leaves, tan leaves, and purple parrots. I knew I'd never be able to replicate the parrots, so I represented them with purple leaves instead. For the "Movember" prompt and as a shout out to Tom Selleck's spectacular mustache, I went with a winking mustache face on my thumb. 

Leaves

Leaves

I hate using poor tools as an excuse for lack of talent, but I have to say, this 9 Pure Color brush made painting these leaves super easy.

Although you could argue that they look less like palm fronds and more like wheat. 

And here's the right hand. I omitted the winking face from my right thumb.

This mani was silly as heck but I really liked it. The surprise hit was how pretty "Bend Over Backwards" looked mattified. Actually, probably semi-mattified as I think my matte topcoat provides more of a satin finish than a true matte finish. Regardless, I liked it a lot. 

And in conclusion:

PS: 80s Tom Selleck is so damn good looking but let me tell you, an 80s television show starring a white guy solving crimes in Hawaii is as racist as its titular white guy is handsome, so as much as I enjoy Thomas Magnum as eye candy and retro kitsch nail art inspiration, I cannot recommend the actual show. 

clairestelle8: Splatter Pattern

A little gory...

A little gory...

The next @clairestelle8 challenge prompt was "Splatter Nails." 

Blow nail polish all over my desk with a straw? Don't mind if I do! 

What I Blew

What I Blew

  • UNT Ready for Takeoff peelable base coat. 
  • Picture Polish "LakoDom" 
  • Three polishes from the Loreal Chateau Royale collection: "Wine Spritzer," "Wicked Wine," and "Pinot Purple." These dusty purples and pinks really called out to me from their display at Walgreens but unfortunately, when not blowing them out of straw, they are pretty crappy formula-wise.
  • Nine Zero Lacquer "No Time to Waste" topcoat. I didn't like this much at first use but I've been using it a lot lately and enjoying it immensely.
  • Not pictured but vitally important: Simple Peel Liquid Latex, which I applied up to my second knuckles. 
I am wearing tenderness on my nails.

I am wearing tenderness on my nails.

I started with a base of "LakoDom" by Picture Polish, which is a lovely sparkly grayish white. 

Feeling super tender, guys. 

Feeling super tender, guys. 

Here's "LakoDom" in artificial light. I honestly can't remember if this is three coats or two. It looks a little patchy in these pictures so I'm going to say two. 

This is probably super awful, given the whole "tenderness on your nails" thing, but the name "LakoDom" (which I know is a blog) makes me think of Thulsa Doom from Conan the Barbarian. (That link leads to a somewhat NSFW clip from the movie in which James Earl Jones turns into a snake.) Which makes some sort of disgusting sense as far as why I took this tender polish and spewed clots of nail polish all over it. 

Splat.

Splat.

I followed the standard technique of painting polish inside the end of a straw and blowing it onto my nails, which made a terrible mess and ruined a towel. I started with the darkest polish first and layered the lighter colors on top. I had a hard time getting a proper splatter effected, and instead ended up with more of a plopping effect. The combination of colors ended up being a little gross, too, and not to get too graphic here, but reminds me of those particularly heavy days of the month, ifyouknowwhatimean. 

And again.

And again.

My index finger is probably the most splatter-y of them all, and a little more like what I hoped to achieve. Here I'm holding "Wicked Wine," which is my favorite color from the Chateau Royale collection (with the caveat that I haven't actually worn it on my nails by itself, at which point I may change my tune). 

Notice how my pictures are looking a little cloudy? I was worried this was due to lighting conditions and that my lack of a proper light box of lighting set up was going to torpedo my illustrious rise to the top of the nail blogging world before I even got started (when I would like to take care of that through my own controversial misdeeds, thank you very much). But instead, I cleaned off the camera lens on my phone and my next set of pictures were crisp and clear. 

So, add that to my list of nail blogging lessons: if you're going to use your phone camera, clean off that lens every once in awhile, especially if you have a toddler who loves to wipe yogurt on your phone. 

Right hand! Surprise!

Right hand! Surprise!

Look at me! I only did nail art on my left hand! I'm a real nail blogger!

Really, I knew I was only going to wear it for one day, that I wasn't doing anything other than picking my kid up from daycare, and this was soooooo messy that I couldn't bear to go through the process twice.  

Ipsy? Yeah sure.

A bag of things.  

A bag of things.  

I suppose my caving into the onslaught of hashtag viral marketing for some kind of beauty product subscription box was inevitable, given the heavy cross over between nail bloggers/Instagram users and beauty bloggers. I work from home most of the time and rarely wear makeup but I am still easily swayed by new! and exciting! developments in beauty products, so I'm hoping by spending $10 a month on a curated selection of samples, I'm less likely to spend $50 a month of a random selection of products somebody blogged about. 

So anyway, I got my first Ipsy bag on Friday and let me tell you, I was pretty damn excited about it. I doubt I'll post about every bag I get--I am not well suited to beauty blogging (my "empties" posts would have to be quarterly and would consist of the same rotation of economy-sized Suave, Olay, and Dove products every time) but this one time? Let's take a look and see what we've got. 

  • The Bag - HELLO GALAXY PRINT! I love the bag. I love galaxy print. I'm going to be that asshole who, three years from now, is still carrying her beat up galaxy print LeSportsac purse despite it being extremely passe, because I love it too much to care whether it's still in style. Like, galaxy print is going to be my "mom jeans," aka the style of jeans someone decides to wear for the rest of their lives, trends be damned, because they are too damn old to prioritize style over comfort, and these jeans are some comfortable fucking jeans. (Note: I found my mom jeans four years ago and am down to the last two of five pairs I bought, out of fear the manufacturer would stop making them, which it did, so that is fucking sad as hell. If you have any mom jeans recommendations, I'm all ears.)
  • Absolute New York Nano Liner - I missed the window on liquid eyeliner in that back when my eyelids were firm and you could draw on them without them wrinkling up like single ply toilet paper under fine point roller ball pen, I was too busy being a dirty hippy to wear eyeliner. And now I can't draw a neat line on my precious, beautiful, crepey eyelids to save my life. I still gave this liner a go when I went into the office last Friday because I'm a team player. The liner was pretty easy to use and I was able to smudge it sufficiently to hide the fact that my lines looked like a Richter scale readout, which gave me more of a smokey eye look than was probably called for at a day-long conference on the very boring topic that the conference was about, but whatever. I certainly won't repurchase this liner, but I also won't have to because I'll probably retire before I use it up anyway. 
  • TresStique matte lip pencil/crayon (I don't feel like getting up to get it and confirm what it actually is... SUCK IT VIRAL MARKETING) in Florence Fig - This is great! It's a really good "my lips but better" shade for me, and I like the formula: smooth and matte but not drying. I doubt I'll repurchase this because I have a lot of lipstick but I'll definitely use it and I'm glad I have it. 
  • Sinful Colors "Mercury Rising" - This is super pretty and I love it and I'm thrilled I got a full sized nail polish in my bag. 
  • Smashbox Full Exposure mascara - I'm skeptical of mascara because all I want out of it is to make my lashes darker. I don't need doll eyes or spider eyes (WHY IS THAT A THING????) or mascara that looks like false eye lashes. All I want is to look as though I am not ill. I wasn't sure what kind of ridiculous things this mascara promised, but I was pretty sure I didn't want any of it. Still, the mascara I have was starting to smell weird, so I used this Smashbox stuff and ended up liking it a lot. Despite the huge and intimidating brush, it was just plain mascara. Good stuff. I would conceivably repurchase this but I'm hoping by the time this runs out, I'll get another mascara in a future Ipsy bag so I won't have to.
  • Albertini International Warm Love Pumpkin Exfoliating Mask - Did you know that if you say "pumpkin exfoliating mask" into a mirror three times, Paula Begoun appears, whispers "Fragrance is not skincare!" into your ear, and then disappears in a cloud of Paula's Choice samples? I am as picky about skincare as a cheap, elderly lady with dry, sensitive skin can afford to be but there's like a tablespoon of product in this container so I didn't bother to comb through the ingredient list to see whether there was anything super objectionable in it. There's jojoba esters, which I just learned is a gentle mechanical exfoliant, and some clay that I assume is to absorb oil, and of course fragrance but fuck it, I used it anyway. It's fine. It's fine! The smell is pleasant - much more straight pumpkin than pumpkin spice - and my skin did feel nice and soft after I used it. Will I repurchase this? Fuuuuck no. I'm a die hard chemical exfoliant kind of woman and don't have time in my life for pumpkin flavored skincare but I will use the remaining application in this container one night when I'm feeling like I want a little extra pumpkin smell in my day. 

I was surprised that I found so much of the stuff in this bag useful, but I had pretty low expectations. I'm interested to see what next month brings. 

NOTD: The Bends Again

TRIUMPH

TRIUMPH

This is now the third time attempting to write this post. For some reason, Safari keeps detecting an error on this page and reloading it, losing everything I've written so far. I don't know if it's Safari or Square Space or my dumb luck but let's all give me lots of credit for not throwing my computer out of a window, shall we?

These unexpected errors are even more unwelcome given that I haven't updated this blog in a week! I took some inadvertent time off to handle some family stuff and work stuff, which included making a self-care triage decision that sleep was more important that blogging, however fun blogging about my fingernails may be. 

Okay, let me save this shit before Safari/Square Space shits the bed again...

SUCCeSS

SUCCeSS

Anyway! I'm soft of half-assedly participating in the @clairestelle8 challenge this month, and my first half-assed entry was a revisit of my old nemesis, Super Black "The Bends," in response to the "Under the Sea" prompt. I admit this was a bit of a cheat, but given my history with this polish and its water nature, I felt okay about tagging my Instagram photo into the @clairestelle8 challenge. 

VICTORY

VICTORY

God dammit, the page closed again. At least this time I only lost three paragraphs instead of the whole thing. 

Okay, let's get through the rest of this quick.

Here it is in sunlight streaming through a bus window. 

VALIDATION

VALIDATION

And here it is in my bathroom. 

I stopped at two coats, but looking at these pictures, that's a bit patchy. Next time I'll use three.

A WINNER IS ME

A WINNER IS ME

And finally, here is "The Bends" on a bus at night under those weird florescent bus lights.

Okay, time to save and publish this motherfucker. Sheesh. 

NOTD: Half Naked Manicure

Palate cleanser (do not eat)

Palate cleanser (do not eat)

Unsurprisingly, after the dark manicures and clean up debacles of my last two manicures, I desperately needed something neutral and easy to wear on my nails. I was also going to be busy from Thursday to Monday and had some professional obligations to consider so I reached for a nice nude-on-me classic, OPI "Bubble Bath."

"Bubble Bath" is sheer as heck, and my nails are kind of ridgy, and I was feeling the need to give my nails something extra so I decided to use part of Zoya's Naked Manicure as a base. Specifically, I started with the "Naked Base" and then painted a coat of the "Lavender Perfector," which not only color corrects my yellow nails but also works as a really nice ridge filler. 

Next came two coats of "Bubble Bath" and one coat of China Glaze "Fairy Dust" to give an otherwise plan manicure a little something something. And of course, top coat.

This nude but sparkly nail was in the neighborhood of what I was going for the day I put "Peacock" on my nails, and was probably inspired by Lindsay Gentles throwing a holo top coat over the full-on Naked Manicure. It's definitely not particularly exciting (hence this post featuring one picture) but did the trick as a refreshing palate cleanser. 

Now I'm refreshed and ready to dive into more fall manicures and the 1,000,000 November nail challenges going around Instagram!

NFOTD: Peacock (plus bonus book talk)

Nobody wants to see your peacock, man. 

Nobody wants to see your peacock, man. 

Some days I look back at my previous nail designs and am so pleased with my progress. Other days, I feel like I'm taking one step forward and five steps back. Peacock day was one of the latter. 

I was heading out to a book release party that night and wanted something pretty and sparkly with a touch of Halloween vibe. 

When we were innocent.

When we were innocent.

I haven't done any pumpkin nails all season, so I thought I'd make a little pumpkin decal for my detail nail. After painting a layer of clear polish on my Uber Mat and letting that dry, I drew a few pumpkins with a roller ball pen. A felt tip would probably have worked better, but I'm more of a pencil person so while I have a zillion different kinds of pencils, all of the pens in our house are old and mostly purloined from employers or hotels. 

I decided these pumpkins would be purple rather than orange and sport gold features to look like a candle burning inside. 

Mother fucker...

Mother fucker...

Y'all know I don't care for white polish but Kelly Gonzo described Color Club "Blank Canvas" as "marshmallowy" and that sounded extremely appealing to me, which is kind of weird because I don't care for marshmallows, either. I started with one coat of ridge filling base coat, then one coat of "Blank Canvas." Then I had to run some errands, so that first coat of polish dried for over an hour. When I came back, I applied a second coat of "Blank Canvas," let it touch dry, topped it with China Glaze "Fairy Dust," and when that was touch dry, hit it all with some Seche Vite. 

And an hour later, it was still not dry. 

This is the second Color Club polish I've tried and the second Color Club polish I have had major drying issues with. Or maybe it's "Fairy Dust"? I don't know, but pictured above is my accidentally fucked up middle nail and the ring finger nail I petulantly jabbed at with my index nail while throwing a total shit fit. 

And then? I tried to pull the pumpkin decal up but hadn't let that dry long enough and the whole thing fell apart. 

It is possible I cried a little at that point and considered giving up painting my nails forever. 

When in doubt, reach for something sparkly.

When in doubt, reach for something sparkly.

But I didn't. Instead, I put all my polishes and tools away, cleaned up my Uber Mat, drank some water, and then tried to look at my collection from a fresh perspective in an attempt to find some inspiration and motivation. That didn't really work so I just grabbed Picture Polish "Peacock" from my untried pile and painted my nails.

I've really loved every other Picture Polish polish I've used but this one left me cold. I found it extremely difficult to clean up (and after that whole Neutrino mess from the previous day, I was feeling real real tired of cleanup hassle), thought the coverage was patchy, and just wasn't impressed by what should be a slam dunk combination of color and finish for me. I may have been cranky from a sub-par week of manicures, though, so I didn't do anything crazy like throw this in the destash pile, but me and "Peacock"? We are not friends right now. 

You try holding a 700-some page book with one hand while taking a picture of it with the other.

You try holding a 700-some page book with one hand while taking a picture of it with the other.

But life goes on and I was pretty excited to head out to my friend Dan Kraus's book release party for his new epic The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch

Here's the book blurb from Dan's website:

A swaggering seventeen-year-old gangster named Zebulon Finch is gunned down on the shores of Lake Michigan. But after mere minutes in the void, he is mysteriously resurrected.
His second life will be nothing like his first.
Zebulon’s new existence begins as a sideshow attraction in a traveling medicine show. From there, he will be poked and prodded by a scientist obsessed with mastering the secrets of death. He will fight in the trenches of World War I. He will run from his nightmares—and from poverty—in Depression-era New York City. And he will become the companion of the most beautiful woman in Hollywood.
Love, hate, hope, and horror—Zebulon finds them. But will he ever find redemption?

Epic. Literally!

I haven't started reading this yet because I just checked out The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber from the library for the second time (I never got around to reading it before the ebook loan expired the first time I checked it out) and I'm determined not to let it disappear into the ether again. As soon as that's done, though, I've got a date with Zeb Finch.

Halloween Mani Madness: Wrap Up

Here's all my Halloween manicures!

Click any picture for more details on each look.

Looking back on these, I did some pretty nice designs, if I do say so myself.

The Cute Skittle Mani was by far my most popular, with Instagram approval somewhere in the 30s. I think that's my favorite, too, although the Movie Monsters are a close second, and that Halloween water marble is pretty sweet, too. 

Happy Halloween! And Happy New Year to all my witches! 

Halloween Mani Madness: Star Glitter Placement

Starrily "Neutrino," star glitter from KBShimmer, and a fuck of a lot of top coat

Starrily "Neutrino," star glitter from KBShimmer, and a fuck of a lot of top coat

My final Halloween manicure was a bit anticlimactic. 

I have to say, while I was looking forward to fall and to Halloween, now that my historically favorite season and holiday has finally arrived, I feel pretty ambivalent about them both. I still vastly prefer weather on the cool side, and I like when dark falls early (major apologies to my husband and handful of friends who suffer from SAD and SAD-adjacent gloom this time of year) but I had a hard time getting excited for Halloween and I don't feel that soaring glee that I normally feel when I'm walking outside in tights and a sweater and not sweating my ass off or scowling under the relentless heat of the summer sun. 

Spray array

Spray array

I did my best to channel my Halloween enthusiasm into holiday appropriate manicures, but even that felt a little flat to me. 

This was my first glitter placement, and I think it was fine. I started with two coats of Starrily "Neutrino." Then I applied these little star glitters from KBShimmer that were included as a freebie in my last order. My intent was to place them in a spray pattern, starting small on the pinky and leading to full coverage on the index nail. I didn't pay any attention to my color choices, for better or worse. I don't know how apparently my pattern is, but I don't have any issues overall design. 

Right hand

Right hand

I repeated the pattern on my right hand.

This manicure was simple and didn't take long, but it was not without its challenges. "Neutrino" is a fabulous polish and is very highly pigmented, which is how you get that beautiful deep black color. But whether it was the polish or my ever more desiccated cuticles or my hands were shakier than usual, I don't know, but clean up was an absolute HORROR on this one. Way worse than the last time I used "Neutrino."

In fact, let me show you a very scary picture.

It's very scary.

I'm warning you.

Here it is.

SCREAMMMMMMMM

SCREAMMMMMMMM

Yeah. Look at that! That's after three or four rounds with acetone and a cleanup brush. And look at the smear of black polish on my hand in the lower right corner of the picture. Brutal. 

As it turns out, I also cannot cope with having textured, chunky glitter on my nails, either. Within 30 minutes I had picked four stars off my nails, and by sundown I'd taken the whole manicure off. Let's hear it for UNT "Ready for Takeoff."

So, my Halloween Mani Madness ends with the same ambivalence that I have felt about the whole season so far. Maybe November, which boasts my birthday, my daughter's birthday, my second favorite holiday, and this year, visits from family, will spark some more enthusiasm. 

Small Haul: Color Club from Zulilly

Do you all have Tuesday Morning stores near you? It's a closeout retailer that is probably less full of garbage than Big Lots but not as fancy as a TJ Maxx. My friend J and I have a real soft spot for Tuesday Morning, but our friend C refers to it, not inaccurately, as "the Crap Factory." 

Zulily is a crap factory, except online and membership only. I've been burned way too many times on their general merchandise, which runs the gamut from reasonably okay to total garbage, but occasionally they have sales on on a brand of stuff that I know I like. 

And sometimes they have nail polish. (In fact, the last time I checked, they were selling Butter London for $12 each. )

They were selling these Color Club duos for $8.00, so I decided to pick up three.

Dynamic duos

Dynamic duos

My limited research suggests these colors weren't originally offered in the same collections, so I don't know if these duos represent Color Club creatively clearing out some backstock or if they were a special Zulily exclusive or what. 

Polishes going their own way

Polishes going their own way

From left we have:

  • Holy Chic
  • Kapow
  • Blank Canvas
  • Valedictorian 
  • British Invasion
  • With Love

Before this haul, my only Color Club was Take Me to Your Chateau, so I'm pretty excited to try out some of their other polishes and for $8USD for two full sized bottles (that normally retail for about $8.50USD each), it seemed like a fabulous bargain.

If you aren't already a member and are interested in checking out their deals, here's my referral link. I think I get $15 credit for everyone who signs up under that link and makes a crap factory purchase. If you do sign up, first, thank you, and second, I recommend immediately unsubscribing from all emails, because damn they send a lot of emails.  

Halloween Mani Madness: Cute Skittle Mani

Skittle!

Skittle!

I've had this manicure planned since like August when I bought my kid's Halloween costume. 

Francie 

Francie 

Bonus that those adorable water slide decals from Shop Keeki look like my adorable actual cat, Francie, pictured here peering down at me from her cat shelves. (Thank you, Jackson Galaxy, you magnificent weirdo, for sharing your vision of cat shelves with the world.)

Stuff I Used

Stuff I Used

This was an easy look over all. Here's what I used:

  • Nine Zero Lacquer "Super Smooth" base coat. I think I love this stuff.
  • China Glaze "Liquid Leather." This is becoming my go to black polish. 
  • Floss Gloss "Con Limon" and "Perf." Can I tell you a secret? I don't like Floss Gloss. It's expensive as hell, comes in these dumb tiny bottles with tiny caps and stubby brushes, and the formula is nothing to write home about. I also find their hipster marketing aesthetic tiresome but that's more about me being a 42-year-old curmudgeon than about anything they are doing wrong. 
  • China Glaze "Something's Brewing"
  • Francie cat nail decals from ShopKeeki.com. Okay, they are just black cat nail decals but in my heart they will always be Francie cats. 
  • Random striped nail stickers that a coworker gave me when she was cleaning out her desk in preparation for a transfer to an office in another state, because she was cool as hell and kept nail stickers in her desk. 
  • Dotting tool and, not pictured, white acrylic paint
Right hand

Right hand

That's two coats of each polish. The stickers went on my thumbs. My kid's costume involved a lime green tutu and tights with one black and white striped leg and one black and white polkadotted leg, so my nails really did match my kid!

I wanted to get a picture of my nails and my child for Instagram, but we were in such a rush to get out the door to the park where there was a big old Halloween party that we didn't get a chance to take the photo until we got home. After four hours of an almost two-year-old running around like a maniac in a tutu, this child was not interested in posing for any pictures. I managed to crop the best one to post on Instagram, but here are three uncropped, behind the scenes shots.

Don't worry - the whole ordeal was over in about ten seconds after which she was completely mollified with Sesame Street and a cheese stick. And she fully approved of this manicure and the endless games of "kitty peekaboo" we could play with the cat nails. 

Halloween Mani Madness: Glitter Gradient

Glitter gradient action, natural light

Glitter gradient action, natural light

A few years ago, my pal over there at Liability Nails stayed with us while visiting Chicago and brought her nail gear along. She gave me my first nail art manicure, specifically a really cool glitter gradient. I was attending my work team's holiday gathering the next night, and between those nails and some crazy huge hair I was rocking thanks to not having had a haircut in like six months and the volumizing properties of dry shampoo on third-day hair, I was looking pretty damn fabulous if I do say so myself. 

For whatever reason, I haven't revisited the glitter gradient look... until now. 

Right hand, lightbox bathroom

Right hand, lightbox bathroom

This was super simple. I started with a base of three coats of China Glaze "Drink Up Witches" (I love that name) and applied China Glaze "Let's Dew It" for the glitter gradient. I did three passes with the glitter: dry brush, slightly less dry brush, and then sponged on polish just on the tips. 

This is another one that looked better in person when you were looking at my nails from a standard head to hand distance than it does up close in a photograph. 

Yeah okay

Yeah okay

I wanted to add a little extra something to this look, so I painted a coat of Sinful Colors "Skelebration," a glow in the dark chunky glitter polish, over "Drink Up Witches" but under the glitter. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a picture of this glowing, but it did, albeit faintly.

I didn't actually want any of the skull and crossbones glitter because I think it looks like either gingerbread people, which would be seasonally inappropriate, or ticks, which, thanks to growing up rural and having ticks pulled off me every time I spent more than 15 minutes outside, gives me the howlers something fierce.  Aside from this one little dude, "Skelebration" was happy to oblige my glitter-free preference. To honor his sacrifice, I decided to stick him on my thumbnail, like a golf shirt logo. Then I spent the rest of the day thinking I had a tick on my thumb.  

Halloween and Holiday Collections I Am Considering Selling Plasma to Buy

Will holidays and birthdays and family visits coming up, there's not a lot of extra room in the budget for major polish purchases but that doesn't stop me from wistfully adding nail polish to various e-commerce carts that I will eventually abandon with a choked sigh. Here are some things I am feeling particularly bereft without:

Image courtesy of LiveLovePolish

Image courtesy of LiveLovePolish

Starrily Welcome to Transylvania Collection

My god, will you look at that? I love every sing color and I love the aesthetic of this collection and I love the names and I love Starrily and somebody come pay off my student loans so I can buy this entire collection before it's gone. 

a-england To Emily Bronte Collection

I don't even think this is available in the USA (maybe not in the UK anymore, either), but that doesn't stop me from wishing it were. And I readily admit that, while I do like the colors, at least half if not more of the appeal of this collection is the name and the marketing. Emily isn't my favorite Bronte (that'd be Charlotte) but I love Wuthering Heights* and this entire collection makes my inner goth extremely happy. 

EDIT: Heck yeah this is available in the USA over here at Color4Nails.

*I never understood why Wuthering Heights is considered a love story. It's a brutal book about horrible people who hate each other, who would rather destroy what they can't possess than see someone they claim to love be happy. I mean, it's a fantastic book and I love it but it is definitely not a love story. 

Zoya Matte Velvet Holiday 2015

A pratical part of me looks at these polishes and says, "Come on. Is there anything really that special here? Why don't you just quit being a weirdo and buy a better matte topcoat and then every polish you own can be a 'Matte Velvet,' whatever the hell that even means." But the larger, magpie part of me just points and says, "Look! Pretty!" These polishes are winter holidays in a bottle.

KBShimmer Winter/Holiday 2015

The first swatches from KBShimmer's 2015 holiday collection are rolling out on Instagram and the nail-blogosphere. I haven't really had a chance to pick out my favorites, but if my history with KBShimmer is any indication, there's bound to be three or four that capture my attention (and my heart).

What are you sighing wistfully about these days?

NOTD: Fall Water Marble

Fall Watermarble

Fall Watermarble

I am addicted to water marbling. 

In classic form, I set out to do something completely different than this water marble, but I like where I ended up. 

"Be There In a Prosecco" gets the gas face.

"Be There In a Prosecco" gets the gas face.

I started out with a base of OPI "Be There in a Prosecco," which was still streaky and uneven after three coats. Based on other swatch and reviews I've read, my experience is unusual. Most bloggers report this polish is opaque in two coats, maybe three. I don't know if I have a funky bottle or funky nails or terrible light colored creme polishing skills but this still looked cruddy on three coats for me. But there was no way in Funkytown I was going to do four coats of a base color under a water marble. So we rolled with the streaks. 

First pass

First pass

I can't let go of the idea of an abstract fall color design. After an attempt at abstract leaves turned into monster skin, I thought maybe I could use a water spotting technique for a swirly fall foliage design. 

I experimented with a few different red, orange, green, and brown color combinations that I quickly abandoned because they looked nauseous all whirled together. Then, just to see how the water spotting looked on the nail, I tried it with a few drops of Sephora by OPI "I'm With Brad" and got the interesting but rather sparse looking designed pictured on my thumbnail, above. 

Funky right hand.

Funky right hand.

I wanted a look with more coverage, if only to cover up the streaky "Prosecco," so I settled on a regular water marble using "I'm with Brad" and China Glaze "Lighthouse." I drew a random pattern because my water marble pattern drawing skills were a little askew that morning but the end result resembled stone in a very pleasing way, if I do say so myself.

While the application of the marble pattern is uneven, and these colors are most definitely not from my preferred side of the color wheel, I really like how this turned out. The colors together look like an ostentatious slab of marble you might see some tacky dingalings on House Hunters: Renovations pick out for their en suite. Days later looking back at these photos I'm still enamored with my right ring finger nail for reasons I cannot quite articulate, given how weird it turned out. But I'm not complaining. This manicure was fun to create and fun to wear and that's pretty much all I ask.  

Here's to happy accidents!

Halloween Mani Madness: Monster Skin Dotticure

I've got monster skin.

I've got monster skin.

Believe it or not, it took a lot of effort to figure out what I wanted to do with this manicure. 

Pictured: like every even remotely fall or Halloween-adjacent polish in my collection.

Pictured: like every even remotely fall or Halloween-adjacent polish in my collection.

My original intent was a color block manicure in Halloween colors, then fall colors, then a dry marble, and then by the time I'd spent an hour farting around with swatches and inspirational internet searches, I didn't have time for anything too complicated. 

I settled on a dotticure gradient, which I hadn't done before, in fall colors. My intent was to invoke falling leaves. 

Super Black Lacquers "Switch" is like a black cat in that it's impossible to photograph well.

Super Black Lacquers "Switch" is like a black cat in that it's impossible to photograph well.

I settled on the following polishes:

  • China Glaze "S'more Fun" from this year's Great Outdoors collection.
  • Love, Angeline "Ruffles, Lace, & High Heels" which I got in a destash grab bag from Keli at The Nail Polish Challenge. I've been wanting to wear this for a long time but since I tend to gravitate towards jewel tones and cool colors, I found myself always reaching past this polish. I don't think it's available anymore but she has some other pretty gold-browns on her website. 
  • Super Black Lacquers "Switch." This was one of my first indie polishes. I've only worn it once and I hated it. It has an olive undertone to the black that I found very unappealing, plus compared to other holographic polishes, the holo payoff just isn't there (the photo on the website is misleading, to say the least). But I can't quite bring myself to detash it, and it was definitely the right choice for this manicure. I'll have to wear it alone again one of these days and see if my feelings about it have changed now that I know a little bit more about nail polish.
  • Picture Polish "Autumn" because it is the prettiest orange in all the land.
  • China Glaze "But of Corpse," from the 2014 Halloween collection. First, in my mind this will always be "Butt of Corpse." Second, I broke No Buy October for this (and OPI "Espresso Yourself") because it was on mega clearance in the Sally's sale bin, and you know what, I'm not sorry. 
  • That striper brush is leftover from when I thought I'd do a dry marble and was not harmed in the making of this manicure. 
Three easy coats... hmph.

Three easy coats... hmph.

I started with a base of "S'More Fun," which had an annoying formula and still looked streaky after three coats, even on top of a ridge filling base coat. 

Glossy

Glossy

I started with a larger dotting tool and "But(t) of Corpse," which I dotted on for fuller coverage at the free edge of my nail, thinning out the coverage towards the cuticle. The I followed that with "Ruffles, Lace, & High Heels" then "Autumn," using a slightly smaller dotting tool and applying the dots less densely. Finally, using a small dotting tool I went back for just a few scattered dots of "Switch." I let all the dots dry in between layers, but you can only expect so much of nail polish.

I covered what was now the equivalent of about seven coats of polish with Seche Vite and hoped for the best. 

Matte

Matte

I really didn't like how this looked glossy, so I busted out my old matte topcoat and mattified it. I liked that better, but I was still never really sold on this one. It definitely doesn't look like falling leaves but all of the glitter makes it look like rough skin, so I decided to call it monster skin, then call it a day.

Right hand

Right hand

This one was easy enough that I was able to get a similar look on the left and right hands.

See what baths do to your cuticles? 

See what baths do to your cuticles? 

But, as happens when you pile so many layers of polish on top of each other and then soak everything in water as a necessary side effect of bathing a toddler, all that polish slid right back off the nail. It's almost artful the way the polish buckled but I'll leave that to Dutch nail art genius PiggieLuv.

My solution was to stay up late removing this polish and replacing it with INLP "Pretty Little Liar," which was beautiful and perfect and for some reason I didn't get a picture until four days later when it was all chipped to hell and back. 

Chippy chippy

Chippy chippy

In closing, here is the song that this manicure has had me singing since last week (woo woo!).

Guided by Voices - Bulldog Skin